Article History
97% brightentayle


  1. Specifications
  2. A Crash Course On How To Abuse Octode
  3. A Crash Course On How To Abuse Octode, 1tracker Edition
  4. Tools Of The Trade
  5. Possible Inspirations For You
  6. Olso
  7. See Also
Octode is a yet another zxbeep (format) engine coded by Shiru, which is all clear and simple as daylight, but, as the title suggests, has about eight channels of tone to play with, not including drums! Right now, a song for it can be either made up in your favourite .xm milker or in the latest version of 1tracker.


There are eight channels of 8% tone, all of which have a (relatively useless) detune feature. In addition to that, there's a drum channel which has half-a-dozen sounds to roll around with.

Oh, and have I told you there are no other effects than detuning? Well, now you know.

A Crash Course On How To Abuse Octode

1) Download Octode on
2) Download SjASMplus.
3) Unpack both and put SjASM compiler into the folder with Octode.
4) Track it out!
5) Save the module as music.xm or any other filename you prefer (in case of the latter, refer to the sidequest walkthrough).
6) Run compile.bat.
7) Pick a ZX Spectrum emulator and run the resulting test.sna in it.

Sidequest walkthrough: A little file inside the folder called test.asm contains the name of converted module, "music.asm" by default. You might want to modify this, as well as the compile.bat.

Word of warning: You can't change the tempo on the fly and whereever you want - this can be done only and always at the beginning of a pattern (any, though).

A Crash Course On How To Abuse Octode, 1tracker Edition

1) Download 1tracker
2) Learn the hotkeys you've gotta use here most (selecting, copying, pasting, octaves, speed), since there's gonna be neither patterns nor actual mouse interface.
3) Choose Octode as your engine of choice.
4) Track, track, track! But make sure you put notes in EVERY line or else it will count as a note stop! x_x
5) Save it into any desired format you want (preferably .tap).

Word of warning: You're gonna lose ALL the tempo manipulation stuff since you're basically working with a one huge pattern. On the other hand, you actually get to hear all the detunes, unlike in the .xm trackers.

Tools Of The Trade

Just about all the songs in Octode come out as kinda large ones for Speccy's standarts (one two-minute module can turn up into a 10KB code chunk or, even worse, 20KB>), so playing around with Octode on the maximum speed is not really recommended. That means you'll be left without the manually-implemented effects such as arps or slides, but since now you've got some pretty awesome polyphony on your side...

Think of your harmonies THRICE, not just twice. They're pretty much gonna be your bread and butter here.

Mister Beep, the guy who worked with this engine more than most other beeper musicians, has several guidelines regarding Octode on this
pagey, which include:
- There is no real way of controlling the volume manually: if you have several exactly-looking channels, they will not sound louder - they will sound "denser" (on the other hand, you still can make echos by stacking one note to several channels - and then cutting some channels out). As a matter of fact, there's one trick you can use with the denser beeps...
- Octode isn't really suited for bass, so you might dedicate at least three channels solely for it. Two of these chans should have exactly the same notes, plus one would include detune (exclude detune if you plan to go to octave 3), which is the E57 effect in the .xm trackers.
- It doesn't matter how big the note range is on Octode - do NOT go higher than the 4th octave, especially on purpose.

Possible Inspirations For You

Mister Beep has made lots of songsies using this very engine (which even round up to a whole album!), such as Save the Kingdom
or Enemies from Outer Constellation
, so you might consider to take his style for a ride. Or even two.


xxl has a special version of xm2octode converter
which redoes the modules not for ZX Spectrum's beeper, but for Atari XL's very own graphical chip, GTIA!

That's right - when your video card makes sounds, pigs fly over the Eiffel Tower, hell freezes over and XL's screen shows nothing but darkness. Let us demonstrate.

Shiru has also ported the engine to Arduino:

See Also

zxbeep (format)
Special FX

File Formats
Sound Chips
2a03 · adlib · amy · AY YM · GameBoy Advance · Huby · MDX · MIDI · Octode · Phaser1 · Savage · SID · spc · Special FX · Tritone · YMZ280B · Z80 · zxbeep